Evolving College Access Programs

Evolving College Access Programs

Scaling K-12 interventions to increase college preparedness

This white paper is the second installment in Blueprint for Enrolling a Diverse Student Body, a four-part research series about how to identify, engage, and recruit students from underrepresented populations.


of high school graduates from the lowest income quintile did not enroll in a higher education institution
of high school graduates from the lowest income quintile did not enroll in a higher education institution

A proliferation of college access programs fails to combat under-enrollment of underrepresented minority (URM) and low-income students. Underrepresented minority and low-income students gravitate to community colleges—or fail to enroll in college at all.

College access programs need to reach more students to improve the pipeline of diverse applicants, but universities lack the resources and ability to build programs that support every student in need. Colleges and universities should scale the most critical aspects of traditional college access programs to increase college preparedness for more students.

Explore the strategies below to build and scale pipeline improvement efforts. These interventions seek to grow the pool of admissible students, increase the college-going rate of underrepresented students, and recruit them to the colleges and universities providing the programs.

Prioritize interventions that tackle school-wide and school-specific root cause problems

Rather than applying predetermined interventions, colleges and universities should identify the leading root cause barriers to college enrollment at each K-12 partner. Then, they should work collaboratively with K-12 partners to prioritize interventions that address specific barriers and tailor interventions to the needs of each partner.

Facilitate student self-correction with personalized progress reports

Colleges and universities cannot serve every underrepresented student through preparedness programs, but they also must reach a larger number of students to grow a diverse pipeline.

Institutions need data-driven systems and tools that enable high school administrators, counselors, and individual students to pinpoint college preparedness gaps. Early warning data allows students to self-correct (and helps counselors prioritize students for interventions) and stay on a college-going path.

Read the other white papers in this series

While higher education leaders agree on the need to increase diversity, long-standing preparedness gaps create critical barriers for enrolling a diverse class. This white paper explains the resulting pipeline problem, especially at selective colleges and universities, and three contemporary forces that make increasing diversity on campus more difficult than ever before.

Parents are key influencers on college enrollment for all students, but the parents of first-generation students are less likely to expect their children to enroll in college than parents with postsecondary experience. Explore our white paper for four best practices to increase first-generation student enrollment by engaging their parents.

To enroll more underrepresented students, enrollment managers must alleviate student concerns and minimize process barriers. Explore the nine best practices to craft an application process tailored to the needs of each underrepresented applicant.

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